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a sense of joy and then a panic
a sense of joy and then a panic
four good horror movies 
01.16.10
leather
I watched all these via Netflix's Watch Instantly.  I think they're all worth watching, but they're also four totally different types of horror. 

Quarantine

The American remake of the French [rec], which I have yet to see.  I'm sure the original is better, but the remake is not bad.  Plot is very simple - firefighters and the TV crew shadowing them answer a distress call at an apartment building, and it turns out to be a zombie remake.  It's all shot from the perspective of the TV crewman's camera, and much of it is very dark.  It reminded me more of the X-Files episode X-Cops and possibly Cloverfield than Blair Witch.  Anyway, the government locks down the entire building, so the uninfected are trapped in there with the infected.  It's kind of like Under the Dome in that aspect, except without Good vs. Evil (just Healthy vs. Zombie), and far less sucky.  For once I did not begrudge the hysterical heroine's screaming.  I would be fucking screaming if I had to go through a dark apartment building and there might be zombies everywhere. 
Creepiness: 7 out of 10.
Originality: 5 out of 10.
Skill: 7 out of 10.
Gore Factor: Blood-vomit, ripped-out jugulars.

Candyman

I know, I never saw the original!  I've only seen the sequels.  I've always thought the Candyman franchise was one of the more elegant in horror, and my impressions were confirmed here.  This sums it up: it is scored by Philip Glass.  From the opening sequence - with Candyman narrating through a mass of bees, "They will say that I have shed innocent blood. What's blood for, if not for shedding?" - it's clear that thought went into this movie.  Doesn't hurt that it was based on a Clive Barker short story.  The main character is a pretty blonde graduate student (it actually does matter that she's blonde) who's writing her thesis on urban legends.  She concentrates on a particular housing complex in the "projects," where everybody believes in the vengeful Candyman.  Naturally, shit happens.  A lot of blood is spilled but it honestly feels more artistic than gratuitous.  Bleak, and tender, and very intelligent.
Creepiness: 5 out of 10.
Originality: 8 out of 10.
Skill: 8 out of 10.
Gore Factor: Blood, rib cages, decapitation.

The Last Winter

I'm a Larry Fessenden fan, which is why I looked forward to this.  And it's straight-up Fessenden - slow-building, bizarre, and not entirely comprehensible.  A small crew of oil workers - led by the always-awesome Ron Perlman - are out in a desolate outpost in the far, far north (as in, they ride around in snow mobiles and there's northern lights and everything).  They notice that it's getting warmer.  There's rain.  The ice is melting.  It's unheard of.  One by one the crew starts to go nutso - wandering around in the snow naked, getting nose bleeds that won't heal, talking about invisible creatures that are lurking in the snow.  It takes too long to figure out what's going on, and it goes in too many winding directions - and even when the creatures are revealed, the rational scientific viewer would be left going "what the ffffff."  I'm not that kind of viewer, so I was like, cooool.  The end sequence, which takes place in a hospital (of course), is an ingenious picture of apocalyptica.
Creepiness: 7 out of 10.  
Originality: 9 out of 10.
Skill: 7 out of 10.
Gore Factor: Blood, ice corpses.

The Orphanage

Another one you're probably surprised I haven't seen.  This one is clearly the best-made of the four - it's polished and cohesive and Belen Rueda is very good as the lead.  She plays a woman who's moved back to her childhood home, an orphanage for "special" children (she's not "special" herself), with her husband and adopted son, Simon.  Simon's all about the imaginary friends, and the new ones he meets in the old orphanage are quite the mean-spirited little fuckers.  Simon disappears during a party, and his mother becomes totally obsessed with finding him - even if it means asking the ghosts for help.  This is a directorial debut, which speaks well of Juan Antonio Bayona.  Despite its polish, it's not a particularly original plot, and plays horror movie tropes like a violin.  But the acting and directing is so good that I actually shed a little tear at the end (it's one of those "emotional" horror movies).  Does NOT need an American remake.
Creepiness: 7 out of 10.  
Originality: 5 out of 10.
Skill: 9 out of 10.
Gore Factor: Deformities, corpses (in various states of decomposition).
Comments 
01.17.10 (UTC)
I love spoilers, and anyway I rarely see horror movies, so please tell me what's making everyone crazy out there in the cold blue arctic.
01.17.10 (UTC)
Wendigos. Larry Fessenden is OBSESSED with wendigos. He has his own concept of them though. They're like enormous blue vapor-mists with human bodies and deer heads, and they eat people, but from a distance it looks like a ghost herd. Quite cool actually. I'm assuming you've seen Princess Mononoke, and they look very much like the Forest God. And anyway they melt the entire arctic (or rather, the oil companies fuck up the environment, and then wendigos come out) so the last scene is of a character stepping out of an arctic hospital and hearing sirens and seeing the parking lot submerged in water.
01.17.10 (UTC)
Yup, seen Princess Mononoke

This does sound cool.
01.18.10 (UTC)
Nice icon. I love that movie so much. It's my favorite Miyazaki.
01.18.10 (UTC)
yeah, I really, really love it too. It's one of my three favorites (I really love Miyazaki).
01.18.10 (UTC)
OK, I'm gonna take a guess on the other two... Spirited Away and Totoro?
01.18.10 (UTC)
Half right. Nausicaa and Totoro :D
01.18.10 (UTC)
Interesting! I've never seen Nausicaa. I tend to assume Spirited Away is up there because so many people think it's his best - I think it's ok, but I like it more for individual scenes (like No-Face eating people) than for the overall story.

I'm actually not a big fan of Totoro... *ducks*
01.18.10 (UTC)
That's okay! I like it as a mother-with-kids. When I saw it, we lived in Japan, and it was perfect for what we were experiencing...
01.18.10 (UTC)
You'd like Nausicaa, though--you should get it on Netflix.

--um, if you do Netflix, that is...

Edited at 2010-01-18 05:36 pm (UTC)
01.18.10 (UTC)
Yes, I do Netflix! I'll put it on the queue.
01.18.10 (UTC)
--and maybe I should say, you *might* like it. It's got a more coherent plot than some of his stuff, and the creatures and world are great, and the breaking of the old trope of good=beautiful bad=ugly is very, very welcome. OTOH, Nausicaa can do no wrong, and this bothers some people--but not me. I like her. She's like a female Ashitaka. She has Role Model written all over her.

It's not as well developed (couldn't be; no time) as the manga on which it's based, but still I like it.

(Even if you don't like it, you have to tell me your impressions, okay? I'm durable, I won't melt and die if you don't like it!)

Edited at 2010-01-18 05:53 pm (UTC)
01.18.10 (UTC)
I knew people in high school who swore by the manga. But as they say, we shall see.

LOL, I wouldn't have pegged you for the wicked witch of the West type anyway!
01.17.10 (UTC)
Ha! Candyman is some good old(er) school horror.

Haven't seen Quarantine or The Last Winter but will probably check out the latter first.

Hmmmmmmmm. The Orphanage. See? That's one of those will-watch-only-once-ever movies for me. I enjoyed it, but the last thirty minutes were pure emotional-scarring torture. As if it *weren't* bad enough lil boy had HIV, then for all the *other* mess to happen?

Oh, and thanks for that screen shot of creepy bag-head child.

My morning is complete!
01.18.10 (UTC)
Oldie but goodie, Candyman is.

I'd watch Orphanage again if it was requested of me, but it was indeed very wrenching. I don't think it really got me as much as it could have - but when the camera panned out when she's reading to all the ghost kids at the end and it shows the little pictures they'd drawn and attached to their beds... it got me.

I live to serve!
01.18.10 (UTC)
For the record, I like your taste in movies.

For the other record, there are just some movies I come to now as a parent . . . man. Just, man. I'm a big softie anyway, but throw in parenthood on top of that, and some flicks just tear me up. I won't watch My Sister's Keeper, forex. I haven't been able to bring myself to watch Pan's Labyrinth again, either.
01.18.10 (UTC)
Duly noted.

Yeah, that's sort of what I was guessing. It's different for me, obviously. I won't watch My Sister's Keeper because it looks too sappy - and you may have seen where I put Pan's Labyrinth at the bottom of my list for this decade's movies, haha. But people bring their own biases and subjective tastes and baggage to movies, and I know I've got my own in that regard.
01.26.10 (UTC)
Anonymous
actually, [rec] is spanish.

--f.
01.26.10 (UTC)
Indeed it is! Wonder why I thought it was French.
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